The parliamentary authorities have defended their decision to ask a gardener to remove each leaf manually from trees outside the House of Commons to save time spent raking them up.
The incident led to accusations on Twitter that autumn had been cancelled by Westminster, when a female worker on a step ladder was spotted taking down yellow leaves, one by one, from a circle of lime trees.
Although winter has not yet arrived, the gardener stripped bare the trees that border the square below Big Ben, instead of allowing them to fall naturally.
Asked about the decision, a Commons spokesman said: “If we waited for the leaves to fall off it would waste a lot of time raking them up. It is more time efficient.”
In a further comment, he added: “The House of Commons employs a gardening service which covers maintenance of more than 145 trees on the parliamentary estate as well as all grassed areas, planted areas, indoor plants, containers and window boxes.
“It is not possible to separate the cost of removing leaves from the trees in New Palace Yard from the wider cost of the gardening contract. The leaves are removed each winter as a more time-efficient alternative to raking fallen leaves.”
Parliament’s trees caused controversy in 2012 when it emerged that authorities had spent £400,000 on renting fig trees for the MPs’ glass atrium, Portcullis House.
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